The air was practically dripping of estrogen and testosterone. Both men and women studied them with appraising eyes, as Sandy followed her friend into the fray. The women appeared to be sizing up the competition, and the men—why they were just sizing them up! Surreptitiously unfastening one more button on her already dangerously open shirt, Ginger grabbed Sandy’s arm and steered her to a nearby table which still had empty chairs available.
The tables were purposely large, seating ten or more people, in an effort to encourage fraternization among the patrons. Because it was a bottle club, meaning you brought your own beverages, coolers of ice, beer, liquor, and mixers were evident here and there between the tables. Thanks to an unspoken rule that you didn't mess with someone else's booze, unopened drinks were unguarded, and no one seemed to be taking advantage. Several 'bouncers' mingling in the crowd were quick to squelch any disputes, escorting any uncooperative parties to the nearest exit.
On stage, the red-haired vocalist was belting out a 'he done me wrong' ballad, accompanied by a bearded, burly, electric guitar player clad in muddy brown and yellow western-style shirt, tight, faded jeans, and highly polished cowboy boots. Clad in a brick- red mini dress, the singer flaunted her cleavage as she held the phallic microphone to her lips, and leaned suggestively toward the guitarist for emphasis. All around the dance floor, couples were clinging to each other, demonstrating varying degrees of intimacy and dancing ability.
"Welcome to singles night at Country Connections," Sandy muttered to herself. It hadn't been her idea to come to this place, known throughout the southern part of the state to be frequented by fast- moving men and free-wheeling women. Ginger, her best friend and confidant, had convinced her that a night out-- a chance to meet and mix with a few eligible men--was just what she needed at this juncture in her life.
Both women had been divorced for a year or more and had spent most of that time adjusting to their new roles as single Moms. Both had moved to the same city within months of each other, had secured employment at the same company, where they had met and almost immediately become close friends. For months now, Ginger had been trying to get Sandy to get out and socialize, without success. It was only due to Ginny's relentless pestering, and a bit of secret loneliness on Sandy's part, that Sandy finally caved. Now, however, she was having second thoughts.
With a Bud Light from their shared cooler in hand, Sandy surveyed the crowd. There was a mixture of ages from 20's to maybe even 60's, some seated at tables chatting in loud voices in attempt to be heard over the strains of the band, as others on the dance floor moved with the rhythm of the music. She marveled to think there were that many singles within commuting distance of the dancehall. Of course it was difficult to know how far lonely and fun-seeking souls would travel for a few hours distraction and the possibility of a hook-up, be it a one-night stand or a long-term relationship.
In her peripheral vision, she noticed a guy watching her. He looked like he might be on the lower side of 40, wearing glasses, a light blue shirt, and dark jeans. Her heart sank when he started toward her.
Quickly, she turned to talk to Ginger, but her friend was already out on the dance floor with a fellow who had swept her away while Sandy's back was turned. "Okay, don't panic, don't panic," Sandy told herself, hoping she was mistaken and that he was about to approach someone else. No such luck. She turned again, and there he was, less than three feet away, his right hand extended.
"Hi. I'm Mark." He strained to make himself heard over the pounding music. Then the song ended, with applause from the crowd for the red-dressed singer. Mark smiled as she shook his extended hand. He was easy on the eyes; not drop dead gorgeous, but pleasant enough; he wasn't salivating, and his attention was not focused on her breasts--both strong points in his favor!
"Sandy," she offered, as the band burst into another number. He took her hand and guided her to the dance floor. She was grateful for the rock music; it eliminated the need to be physically close to her partner, and the volume precluded any attempt at conversation. They swayed and gyrated to the beat of the music, and Sandy began to relax a little. It had been a couple of years since she had danced, and the acoustics of the place made giving herself over to the gods of rock pretty easy.
She was actually beginning to have fun when the band segued into the tones of "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Before she had time to think about it, Mark had pulled her to him and they were up close and personal. He moved smoothly around the dance floor, and she felt herself melting into the mood of the song, slightly sad, somewhat nostalgic, and a little romantic. When the song ended, she was almost sorry. He thanked her and escorted her back to her table.
While finishing her beer, Sandy glanced around her. There was Ginny holding court on the other side of the room. Several men and a couple of women were gathered around her in animated conversation, and she was nodding her head in agreement with whatever they were saying. Her black, curly locks were moving with each nod. Finally, she spied Sandy and returned to their table.
"Well, wha'd ja think, kiddo? Is this a good time kinda' place or what?" Ginny asked as she reached into the cooler for another Bud.